Cambodian Officials Weigh In on Bush Win

If he were a US citizen, Op­position party leader Sam Rainsy said, he would have voted for Democratic US Senator John Ker­ry in Tuesday’s presidential election.

“For social issues, he seems to be more progressive” than US President George W Bush, Sam Rainsy said Thursday. But, he said, “For the US’ foreign policy toward countries under dictatorship or authoritarian regimes, I am very happy Bush was [re-elected].”

Depending on their political leanings, Cambodia’s politicians on Thursday gave differing views on how four more years of a Bush-led government will affect US relations with Cambodia.

Under Bush’s leadership, the US has acted as the “conscience of the world” in its defense of human rights, democracy and its crackdown on international crime such as human trafficking and drug smuggling, Sam Rainsy said. “Under Republican leadership, the US tends to be more supportive of the opposition” movements worldwide, he added. As for Kerry, Sam Rainsy recalled how the senator’s staff once prevented him from testifying before a US Senate com­mittee after the 1997 grenade attack in Phnom Penh.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said he was “very excited” about Bush’s victory, due to the president’s condemnation of author­itarian leaderships. “We cannot live in a world ruled by strongmen,” he said.

Huy Kanthuol Vora, Funcinpec secretary of state for the foreign ministry, said he was surprised by Bush’s win, but didn’t believe Kerry would have made a big difference in US-Cambodia relations.

But he was concerned about the Republicans’ expanded control of the US Senate and the influence of “hard-liners” such as US Representative Dana Rohra­bach­er and US Senator Mitch McCon­nell, longtime critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen. “I see that as something that is not necessarily favorable to Cambodia’s relations with the US,” he said. “I’m very hopeful they won’t put a lot of pressure on the [Cam­bodian] government…. The gov­ern­ment cannot change over­night.”

Hem Keth Sunda, Funcinpec undersecretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said he wanted to see Kerry elected president. “Because of what happened in Iraq and so on, so forth, I still believe President George W Bush should be more careful” in terms of foreign policy, he said.

But Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap applauded Bush’s victory and hoped it would lead to more US aid for Cambodia. “I hope he will support the new [Cam­bodian] government more,” he said.


Related Stories

Latest News